Have you ever heard of lomo? It’s a premium meat cut. It’s also a “Prince of Dry-Cured Spanish Meats,” made from prized Iberian pork. It also sometimes refers to a dish that’s made of beef.
It can get confusing, especially when it comes to differentiating between lomo the dish and lomo the sausage. Most people outside Spain have little knowledge of what lomo sausage even is, and if they’ve heard the word at all, they’ve likely heard it used to describe a Peruvian dish.
A damn shame, as lomo is considered to be better and more deserving of the title of King among Spanish meat products than jamón, the current title holder.
So in the article below, we’ll be discussing what is lomo, how to recognize high-quality lomo properly, how to best store it, and how to best use it, among other things, so you can have the best experience with this highly prized, yet unfairly overlooked dry-cured sausage.
What is Lomo?
The answer to the “what is lomo” question is a bit complicated: it’s a cut of meat, a type of dry-cured Spanish meat product, and a dish all at the same time. Which one is referred to at a specific moment depends wholly on the context:
Lomo, the cut of meat, refers to the loin of an animal: a wide and thick rectangular cut that runs from the shoulder to the rear. In America, the loin cut is often divided into three other cuts: short loin, sirloin, and tenderloin (though different countries may have different systems).
Lomo, the dry-cured sausage, is referred to as either just Lomo (in which case context does the heavy lifting), with its full name Lomo Embuchado or Caña de Lomo (i.e., Lomo Sausage), more rarely, with a general Lomo Curado (i.e., Cured Lomo). If the sausage is made with Iberian pork, it’s called Lomo Iberico.
Lomo, the dish, refers to cooked pork loin or tenderloin. The most famous lomo dishes are Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish made with marinated beef loin (most often sirloin) strips, and Lomo Relleno, a traditional El Salvador dish made by rolling a lightly pounded beef or pork tenderloin around a savory filling made with chopped vegetables, mushrooms, and spices.
The article below provides more information about the dry-cured Spanish meat product.
What Part of the Pig is Lomo?
Lomo, the meat cut, refers to either pork loin or pork tenderloin, most often the latter.
Lomo sausage is made entirely from pork tenderloin, so it has virtually no external fat, fascia, or tendons. Unlike most dry-cured sausages that are made by chopping and mixing various cuts of meat, lomo is made from whole pork tenderloin.
The tenderloin is first seasoned with sea salt and signature lomo spice blend (typically a mix of black pepper, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, sometimes paprika and lemon) and left to cure for a few days. Then it’s stuffed into a pig intestine (bung) casing and left to cure for 2-3 months.
What Does Lomo Taste Like?
Lomo has an intense, very meaty, and savory taste. The pork flavor is very forward, but there’s a noticeable complex undertone from the spice blend. It may sometimes have some smoky notes to it as well, even though lomo is not traditionally smoked. This is usually due to paprika: if the spice blend doesn’t utilize any, then the sausage won’t have any smoky notes.
Where is Lomo From?
Lomo is from Spain. It originated in Aragon and is still mainly an Aragon specialty. It’s widely believed that the best Lomo, especially Lomo Embuchado, is produced in Aragon to this day.
Lomo Iberico can be produced anywhere in Spain with registered and controlled Iberian pig farms. Still, Aragon, especially the province of Huesca, is famous for its Iberian pig farms and is considered the place where the best Lomo Iberico is produced to this day.
Is Lomo Saltado the Same as Lomo Embuchado?
No, Lomo Curado is a dry-cured Spanish meat product made from pork tenderloin.
Lomo Saltado is a traditional Peruvian dish that is made with marinated beef loin, most often sirloin, not tenderloin.
Is Fillet Mignon Lomo?
Fillet Mignon is a cut of beef taken from the tenderloin’s smaller end. So technically, it’s a “lomo cut.” But it has nothing to do with Spanish Lomo Embuchado. Lomo Embuchado is exclusively a pork product. Beef tenderloin cannot be used as a substitute.
Which is the Best Lomo Variety?
The quality of lomo sausage depends on the type of pig used in preparation. Higher the quality of pork, the higher the quality of lomo.
Lomo Embuchado is the most common type of lomo sausage. There are no specific guidelines about the breed of pig, its diet, the area of origin, etc. Lomo Embuchado label requires no further specifications. It has the lowest fat level among Lomo sausages and the least intense flavor profile.
Lomo Serrano is made from the meat of Spanish white pigs (most often Duroc pigs). The pork tenderloins for Lomo Serrano are taken from pigs that are kept on a special diet and have maximally reduced physical activity. This lifestyle is supposed to keep the meat tender and supple. Pigs used for Lomo Serrano are bred exclusively on farms, with diets and activities tightly controlled. Lomo Serrano is more tender and less chewy due to the lack of physical activity. It makes for a delicious sausage but a less complex texture, so this Lomo Serrano is considered inferior to Lomo Iberico.
Lomo Iberico is a higher-end product made with pork from Iberian pigs. It doesn’t necessarily need to be made with pure-blooded Iberian pigs; crossbreeding with Duroc pigs is acceptable as long as pork stays at 50% Iberian ancestry, at least. This type of lomo is traditionally aged for about three months. The process is tightly controlled, as there’s a law in place that lomo Iberico cannot be aged for less than 80 days.
Lomo Iberico Bellota is the most expensive lomo sausage, considered a delicacy. The Iberian pigs used for this sausage variety must be raised exclusively on a diet of acorns (spn., “bellota”). They must also be bred free-range and perform physical activities while fattening up. It’s a delicate balancing act, as too much exercise may cause the muscles to tighten too much. But at a correct level, it renders a delicious, chewy sausage with a robust nutty flavor.
Lomo Iberico Bellota itself is divided into two quality categories. The lesser one allows for crossbred pigs to be used (allowing for 25 to 50% of Duroc pig ancestry). Lomo de Bellota 100% Ibérico only allows the use of tenderloin from pigs with fully Iberian ancestry. Lomo de Bellota 100% Ibérico is considered the highest-quality lomo sausage.
How Do You Recognize a Good Lomo Iberico de Bellota?
Properly produced Lomo Iberico de Bellota must have a very bright red color that veers towards purplish. It should be paler at the outer edges and deeper on the inside, streaked with delicate and faint white lines from fat.
The texture should be tight, chewy, smooth, and slightly greasy, not rigid or dry.
Lomo Iberico de Bellota should also have a robust and complex meaty aroma with noticeable hints of spice.
Does Lomo Need to be Cooked? Can You Eat Lomo Raw?
Yes, you can eat lomo raw. Like most dry-cured Spanish meats (salchichon, chorizo, etc.), it doesn’t need to be cooked and can be safely consumed as is. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it while cooking.
How Do You Eat Lomo?
Lomo sausage is best served thinly sliced at room temperature. It’s usually accompanied by fresh white bread and lightly drizzled with olive oil. If it’s served as a part of a charcuterie board, it’s paired with cheese (Manchego is considered a classic pairing), honey, and fresh fruit.
Lomo isn’t used for complex dishes, but you can still use it when cooking. It makes a luxurious pizza topping, is an excellent addition to hot paninis with just 2-3 ingredients, where its flavor is highlighted rather than overwhelmed, and can even work in lasagna or casserole.
Just make sure to baste lomo with butter, olive oil, or, better yet, pig lard before exposing it to heat so that the sausage maintains proper texture and flavor. The shorter its time under direct heat, the better (i.e., you can bake it into lasagna, but if adding it as a pizza topping, try not to bake it for more than 5-7 minutes).
How Long Does Lomo Last?
Vacuum-sealed lomo sausage has a long shelf life. Most commercially packaged lomo is fit for consumption for at least 12 months after packaging (the label will come with an expiration date or best-by date printed on it).
Once the seal is broken, however, the shelf life of lomo sausage starts to reduce drastically. Depending on how and where it’s stored, lomo can last from a few days to a few weeks to a few months.
Can You Leave Lomo Out Overnight?
Yes, lomo is a shelf-stable product that doesn’t necessitate refrigeration for a short-term period, especially while still vacuum-sealed. You can keep it in a pantry at room temperature, and it’ll be fine unless you’re dealing with extreme temperatures and humidity.
Once unsealed, the risks of it being infiltrated by pathogenic bacteria rise: the bacteria love warmth and humidity, and exposure can make lomo unsafe for consumption. It’s imperative to store lomo properly to avoid spoilage.
How Do You Store Lomo?
Once the vacuum seal is broken, lomo sausage should be either tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or transferred to an airtight container. Exposure to air can cause the fat to oxidize and the meat to dry out, so wrapping will protect the sausage’s taste and texture in addition to protecting it from bacteria. Lomo’s further shelf life will depend on where you store it:
- It can be stored at room temperature (no higher than 75 °F) for 3 to 5 days;
- It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks;
- It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Can You Freeze Lomo?
Yes, you can freeze lomo to extend its shelf life by several months. But it’s generally not recommended, as the texture of defrosted lomo can become drier and lose its tenderness. It does maintain the flavor quality via freezing, but it’s wholly preferable to keep the sausage in the refrigerator and consume it within the first three weeks after opening the package, so you don’t have to freeze it.
Do not defrost via microwave or oven. Instead, keep it in the refrigerator overnight. It’s better to use defrosted lomo in a dish than as an addition to charcuterie since a quick baste with some butter, or pig lard will tenderize the meat further.